My thanks to Tourism Medicine Hat for their feature on my documentary about Medalta Potteries and the historic clay district this week. The documentary is titled Clay, Creativity & the Comeback and was released in 2019. Read more about that project here.
Aug 17, 2023
Oct 26, 2021
These mini art print postcards were all photographed and designed by Editing Luke and are available exclusively in the gift shop at Medalta Potteries in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Stock has once again been limited on this collection, so please exit through the gift shop. Thanks once again to everyone who has snapped these up! I know for a fact they hold up really well in the mail and look great tacked on walls and fridge doors!
Aug 23, 2021
I have social media to thank for reminding me that two years ago this week I completed "that Medalta documentary" called Clay, Creativity & the Comeback. Late 2019 only feels like 5 years ago given the weird time loop we've all been in, but as I'm currently in the middle of finalizing several new contracts it's exciting to look back at a project that by all accounts was a success.
As a quick recap, this doc tells the story of the industrial ruins and abandoned factories of a once booming clay industry in a small prairie city and how a group of volunteers helped to transform the area into a National Historic Site of Canada through efforts that spanned decades.
I think more people have found this documentary in the last year as a result of having more time, but I also attribute it to more house cleaning and organizing. No joke, the number of messages I've received about this documentary because someone found a random piece of pottery that lead to them discovering this film is amazing.
While I really don't have more to say about this project that I haven't already said in previous posts, I'm always happy to recount what a great experience it was and have a reason to share it again. Given the incredible amount of work that went into this and all of the efforts from so many amazing individuals, I will gladly keep promoting it.
The entire documentary is free to view online here.
May 17, 2021
For the last couple years, particularly since the release of my documentary, I'd had a few discussions with Medalta Potteries, the National Historic Site and museum in Medicine Hat, Alberta, about releasing a collection of limited edition postcards inspired by the photo essays I'd shot around the clay district as part of my Around the Hat series.
Despite us both wanting to make it happen, it essentially took a year when everything else slowed down for us to finally find the time to pull it all together. The result is this brand new, 10 piece collection of mini art print postcards, designed and photographed by Editing Luke, and available exclusively through Medalta in the Historic Clay District.
These 4x6" premium postcards are Medalta and Editing Luke branded, and professionally printed on a thick cardstock with a soft matte laminate on the image side. The idea was to produce something brand new that felt like a vintage throwback. A uniquely local postcard that could be mailed, or simply a small souvenir print that could be collected or framed.
Apr 11, 2021
After a year and a half since its premiere, I've finally added a framed poster of Clay, Creativity, and the Comeback - the feature length documentary I directed in 2019 - to my office wall.The documentary chronicles how the abandoned factories of a century old clay industry were saved and revitalized over a decades long journey involving countless devoted individuals. Clay, Creativity, and the Comeback is a story about heritage, reinvention, rebuilding an Alberta landmark that would become a National Historic Site of Canada, and the years of effort involved in uncovering the stories hidden inside the industrial ruins that many deemed unsavable.
Sep 20, 2020
Sep 25, 2019
While I'm sure there will be further updates down the road as I began to promote and share this project with a wider audience, in the meantime I wanted to answer some of the questions I've received and provide some context for how all of this unfolded.
How was this documentary financed?
Money is always a popular topic, and in this instance I can certainly understand the curiosity because of the scale of what had to happen to produce this.
Earlier this year I received a message through the Editing Luke business website from a content producer working at TELUS HQ in Vancouver. I was essentially told that they were looking for Alberta filmmakers, had seen some of my work online, and were motivated to produce something before the end of August 2019.
They already had a budget in place and asked if I'd like to pitch them a documentary concept. This resulting project about how the industrial ruins of Medicine Hat's former clay industry were saved was that idea. We signed a contract, and by April I was in pre-production.
Was this a TELUS Storyhive project?
No. I've been asked this a couple times because I think a few people are familiar with filmmakers campaigning on social media for votes to get their ideas produced.
Part of what made this experience so unique is that it was TELUS who reached out to me and initiated this collaboration. I didn't apply for anything, I've never worked with TELUS before, and I've never done a Storyhive project in the past. Not bad, right? lol.
All that said, TELUS does a great job of investing in content production in the various markets they serve and I think they contacted me just to see if there was potential. It's cool that this worked out and that now we're both able to benefit from sharing an Alberta story that may not have been told otherwise.
What was the most challenging part of creating this documentary?
The time in which all of this had to happen was by far the most challenging aspect of this documentary. We signed a contract and my research began in April. I was in production through May and June, and then edited through July and August.
That's not a lot of time to find your story, connect with and schedule all your subjects for interviews, dig through archives, source music, footage, images, shoot b-roll, etc. etc.
I wasn't in this completely alone mind you - but I think you'll find that most feature length documentaries have more than 5 months between initial concept and delivery date.
Did you find anything you weren't expecting?
Surprisingly, yes. Some of the archival images of the abandoned factories and the vintage footage that was found for this documentary had never been widely released or seen before. Because my material was coming from various archives and often the interview subjects themselves, there was actually a lot that was uncovered, scanned, and digitized specifically for this film that probably won't turn up anywhere else.
What was the most memorable part of shooting this documentary?
There were a lot of memorable parts to this project, but the moment that sticks out because of how surreal it was has to be filming with James Marshall when he got the call that his friend Jack Forbes had passed away.
James and Jack are credited with starting the movement to save the old Medalta factory, so to be interviewing James as he shared stories about Jack and then to receive that call - that was a crazy bit of coincidence to capture on camera.
What was the biggest lesson you learned on this documentary?
I think that compelling stories can be hiding right under your nose. I'd been exploring the clay district for years, had grown up in Medicine Hat, and actually had no idea how elaborate the history of the clay district was or how it was saved prior to researching for this documentary.
I knew there was a big gap between when the factories had closed and when the Medalta museum had opened, but there was no formalized story written out for me to comprehend what had really happened in that time. From a narrative perspective, it was an amazing story to uncover.
Historic sites like this can be found all over North America in various stages of decay OR redevelopment - and in sharing the success of what's happened here, you never know who it might inspire to take a second look.
The introduction for Clay, Creativity & the Comeback can be viewed below, and to watch the complete 75 minute documentary CLICK HERE.
Sep 20, 2019
Clay, Creativity & the Comeback tells the story of how the industrial ruins and abandoned factories of Medicine Hat, Alberta's once booming clay industry were saved from demolition and became the inspiration for a renewed cultural landmark and National Historic Site of Canada.
Medalta Potteries (one of several pottery factories in the area) was where it all began. The idea behind saving this crumbling structure was a grand vision kickstarted by James Marshall and Jack Forbes in the 1970s. It was a dream fraught with obstacles that would take decades, countless volunteers, and an incredible amount of gumption to achieve.
This original documentary - Clay, Creativity & the Comeback - was made possible by the financial support of TELUS, by the amazing individuals who shared their first hand experiences, and through the cooperation of the Friends of Medalta Society and Medalta in the Historic Clay District (and their incredible team who rallied behind this idea).
Written, Produced, and Directed by Luke Fandrich.
An Editing Luke Production. Copyright 2019.
More about the behind the scenes production of this documentary here.